Turmeric is a plant from the ginger family (1). Its name comes from the Latin terra merita, or meritorious earth. It is used as a dye, adding a bright yellow to cloth and food. Turmeric is also used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat skin wounds or digestive issues, infections and colds. It is also used in traditional religious ceremonies in India. From its ancient past to its modern benefits, turmeric is worth learning about due to its many benefits.
Turmeric has been used for over 4,000 years (2). It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for many uses. “Ayurveda” combines two Sanskrit words meaning “life” and “science” (3). This medicinal practice combines the powers of the mind and the body to help reach a full recovery from any disease. In the past, the turmeric root was ground up to be used as a paste to heal wounds, bites, cuts and burns. The spice was added to food to help with menstruation cramps, worms, indigestion, coughing, and even arthritis pain. For religious purposes, it has been used to worship the sun god and to purify people to allow them to participate in religious ceremonies (4). In the 20th century, modern science has picked up on turmeric’s natural healing powers. Thousands of studies and research have been done to figure out how helpful turmeric can be.
Take Home Note:
Turmeric has been used for centuries both in healthcare practices and for religious ceremonies. It has been used as a dye, colorant and medicine. Traditional Ayurvedic medicine details how turmeric helps physical wounds like cuts and burns, to soothing internal diseases, indigestion, gas, and other illnesses.
Turmeric’s Popularity Today
Most studies nowadays have agreed with turmeric’s amazing past. The chemical curcumin found in turmeric which gives the root its famous yellow color is turmeric’s secret power. Curcumin provides so many benefits to the body. It is used to relieve symptoms from (5):
- joint pain
- stomach pain
- Crohn’s disease
- ulcerative colitis
- stomach ulcers
- menstrual cramps
- irritable bowel syndrome
- itchy skin
- bladder inflammation
Curcumin’s uses are vast. It acts as an inflammatory, pain reliever, fever reducer, and cough suppressant. It can help sharpen your mind, recover more quickly from surgery, and lower your cholesterol. Even better, there are little to no side effects of taking curcumin, unlike the variety of medications you will most likely take to treat your ailments. Among all the research, there has been no reports of any toxic effects from using curcumin. It is also impossible to overdose on turmeric.
Take Home Note:
Turmeric has a variety of uses, and it is integrated as a treatment for many illnesses nowadays. There has been so much new research done to see how turmeric can be used as a treatment for various diseases. Curcumin acts as an anti-inflammatory which reduces fever and pain.
Turmeric Can Help Improve Memory
Curcumin maintains your health by reducing inflammation in your cells, which is especially important for your brain. When inflammation reaches the brain, cells become so damaged until they eventually die, leading to diseases like Alzheimer’s (6). Unlike other cells such as skin cells, brain cells cannot regrow or regenerate. This means that dying cells cause permanent, irreversible brain damage. Cell death and nerve damage leads to cognitive impairments like memory loss or lack of motor control.
Common symptoms for the first stage of Alzheimer’s are (7):
- Loss of everyday objects
- Memory lapses
- Trouble remembering new names
- Problems with organization
With the help of curcumin, it can reduce inflammation and remove free radical damage in your cells (8). Even though brain cell damage is irreversible, curcumin can improve cognitive functions and stop further cell damage. Studies have been done testing patients taking turmeric supplements that show that the participants who took turmeric for over a year showed improvement in brain function, including memory. This study goes further to explain that the effects of curcumin could preserve your brain and ensure it stays healthy for longer periods of time. It also goes further to claim that turmeric can prevent Alzheimer’s, but more research has to be done to prove it.
Take Home Note:
Inflammation and high oxygen levels in your brain can lead to permanent cell damage. Nerve damage in your brain can lead to serious diseases like Alzheimer’s. Many studies have found that turmeric supplements have improved brain function like boosting memory function as well as reducing inflammation and cell damage overall.
How Curcumin Helps Your Heart
Not only does turmeric help your brain cells, it also helps your cardiovascular function as well (9). Curcumin keeps your blood pressure at a steady rate and also keeps your cholesterol low. This works by curcumin sending signals to your liver which starts making LDL cholesterol receptors. It also can reduce your risk of heart disease by keeping your blood pressure low. This prevents your blood from clotting, which lowers your risk of a heart attack. You also can maintain good blood pressure by the anti-inflammatory benefits of curcumin (10).
Curcumin stops an enzyme that sends inflammation signals to the body, acting as an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. Reducing inflammation greatly helps your heart health and, just like your brain, helps your heart function for much longer.
Take Home Note:
The amazing effects of curcumin and its anti-inflammatory properties helps regulate your blood pressure and prevents your blood from clotting. Due to the antioxidation effects, turmeric prolongs your cardiovascular health and can help prevent heart attacks.
Turmeric is not just a delicious spice you can use in your cooking; it is exceptionally beneficial for your health. People from the past have used the powdered root to cure many ailments, from rashes to stomach aches, and it still has shown to be useful today. Its has amazing anti-inflammatory and antioxidation capabilities which boost your brain and heart functions. Curcumin has even been found to prevent serious diseases like Alzheimer’s. Whether you’re taking turmeric as a supplement, or adding it to your food, there is much to gain from this ancient Indian spice.